Bloggers, writing at home in our pajamas, don’t often get to make small talk with billionaires. Yet that’s precisely what happened yesterday at lunch, when Sheldon Adelson dropped by our unofficial media table to if we were enjoying our stay. I was there with Black Five’s Bruce McQuain and Kristle Helmouth and Commentary’s Alana Goodman — and it should come as no surprise that one of the richest men in the world is something of a stickler for details.
Lunch was held at a VIP suite set up by The Palazzo as part of the Support Our Troops events here through Saturday morning. It’s a benefit for wounded troops, put on by the Armed Forces Foundation, along with Southwest Airlines, Omaha Steaks, and of course, Mr. Adelson and his wife, Miriam.
The food is excellent. The free drinks are always — always — appreciated. And the suites are, as advertised, five star. There’s a pool reserved just for the troops, a couple of very exclusive dinners, free shows, the works. But it’s more than just a nice few days in Vegas.
There’s a jobs fair, with recruiters from Lockheed-Martin, G.E., and even GameStop. (GameStop, really? Really.) Spa treatments, Randy Couture, Greg Maddox — just all kinds of awesome.
But the best part was a detail I missed during the big arrival yesterday morning. I was all caught up in the moment, which was easy to do. It looked like every single employee from the resort had turned out to form an honor guard from the front door, through the massive lobby, then all the way to the Big Giant Fancy Reception Room (not it’s actual name) for the opening ceremony. The only reason I’m sure it wasn’t every employee, is that the place continued to function. But otherwise, you could’ve fooled me.
The detail I’d missed, Bruce pointed out to me last night. He had followed one particular group of soldiers in, and stayed with them through the whole, long walk. Bruce said that, at first, the guys (and gals) were simply overwhelmed by the reception. And then, after a moment, he watched the stress — months, years, of stress — melt off their faces.
And he’s right. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a happy group of people.
Talking to the AFF’s Patricia Driscoll yesterday, there was one question that was really bugging me. With so many deserving soldiers, airmen, Marines, sailors… with so many to choose from, how do you pick? Of course, recommendations from their officers come in handy, but there was one important detail I’d never have thought about: Meds. “It’s not fair,” she said, “to bring guys to Las Vegas and then tell them they can’t drink.” So the AFF talks to the doctors to make sure they aren’t on any drugs that would prevent them from enjoying all the Palazzo’s amenities.
Soldiers are soldiers, it seems, no matter what.